A Georgia sheriff pleaded guilty on Monday to sexual battery for groping an attorney and TV judge’s breast at a sheriff’s convention last January. Kristopher Coody, who served as Bleckley County Sheriff since 2017, was sentenced to one year of probation. 400 hours of community service, and payment of a $500 fine. Coody also formally sent his resignation letter to Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R), per his attorney, Joel Pugh.
In January 2022, the attorney, Glenda Hatchett, who’s also starred in reality shows Judge Hatchett and The Verdict With Judge Hatchett, attended a convention of the Georgia Sheriff’s Association in Cobb County as the guest of former DeKalb County Sheriff Thomas Brown. In addition to Hatchett’s work on reality TV, she’s also known for representing the family of Philando Castile, a Black man who was shot dead by a Minnesota police officer in his car in 2016.
It was at this convention that Hatchett met Coody, who approached her at the convention hotel bar. When Hatchett told Coody she didn’t know where Bleckley County was located in Georgia, she alleges that Coody pointed at her chest and said, “In the heart of Georgia,” and then repeated this, this time squeezing and rubbing her breast. He didn’t let go of her until Brown saw what was happening and intervened.
Hatchett said the incident left her speechless and unable to leave her bed for two days. “It happened on a Tuesday, and by Thursday morning I could not get out of bed,” she told the Associated Press this week. “So I started counseling literally that evening.” Shortly after the assault, Hatchett reported it to Cobb County authorities, who put out a warrant for Coody’s arrest. The case against Coody has been pending for almost two years now.
Coody is part of a pattern of endemic sexual abuse perpetrated by law enforcement: 40% of police officers identify as domestic abusers. Just last month, Chicago cops came under investigation for allegedly sexually assaulting migrants housed at the police station. Last August, a veteran Kansas City police officer allegedly sexually assaulted 70 Black women and girls. And last November, we learned a Massachusetts cop who lost his job for groping a college student was almost immediately re-hired as a school resource officer at the Blackstone-Millville Regional School District. It wasn’t until last spring that Congress closed a loophole that allowed police officers to sexually abuse people in their custody and defend themselves from charges by simply claiming the encounter was consensual.
“He so violated me, and at that moment I felt so powerless,” Hatchett told the AP on Monday, following Coody’s hearing. “I see myself as a strong woman. I have never been a victim, and I felt it was important for there to be accountability.”
“I don’t want to be the poster woman for this, but I think it’s important for me to be very candid,” Hatchett said. “It’s important that other victims see me holding him accountable.”